Saturday, August 22, 2009


THE MEANING OF YOGA Yoga in Sanskrit language means Union. To understand it more philosophically, it is a union of the human soul and the entire universe. The one who practices yoga is called YOGI and YOGINI (if female) 

Yoga isn't just exercising or meditation. Yoga is a way of life which would benefit the inner body, mind and soul. The credit of writing a systematic book on yoga goes to Patanjali. He wrote a book “yogsutra” before around 100 BC. It is the basic book of Yoga. 

Yoga is a traditional physical and mental discipline of India. Being a branch of Aayurveda, the yoga itself has several branches like Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga. The yoga is one of the ancient Hindu forms of exercise for a healthy body as well as the mind. It was started by the Brahmanas (The priest cast of Hindus who performs religious deeds) However, it has been mentioned in the Indus valley civilization (3000 to 1700 BC) 

There are 21 yogas which includes Bhakti yoga • Karma Yoga • Jnana Yoga • Raja Yoga
Agni Yoga • Anahata Yoga • Artistic Yoga • Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga • Dream Yoga • Hatha yoga • Integral yoga • Kriya yoga • Kundalini yoga • Natya Yoga • Six Yogas of Naropa (Tummo) • Sahaja Yoga • Surat Shabd Yoga • Viniyoga • Yantra Yoga • Yoga Nidra 

The yoga induces meditation as well as Asanas. Asana means to sit down in a particular position as shown in yoga. It includes meditation which empowers the mind to focus on things without being distracted. 

THE BENEFITS OF YOGA : The yoga boosts your immune system. It beings stress levels down and also empowers the mind to focus on things without being distracted. It boosts stamina and strength. It also improves the blood circulation and enhances the muscle tone which results in healthy, glowing skin. It increases flexibility of the body. The positions of yoga works on various body joints and increases flexibility. It works on ligaments of the body and increases lubrication. It massages all organs f the body which are not possible to massage from outerside (i.e stomach and lungs) it enhances the capability of organs and keeps them away from disease. Massaging these organs enhance the blood supply and keeps body healthy.

In the ancient Indian philosophy, yoga is one of the six philosophical schools. The Yoga philosophical system is very close to Samkhya. There is an intimate relationship between the two. Both are looked as twins in India. Samkhya explains the basic theoretical exposition of human nature individually defining its elements and analysis their state of co-operation while they are bonded. It also describes their state of separation in Moksha (the release of soul from the bond of entering a new body after death of the old body)

THE GOAL OF YOGA : is to achieve a healthy body and mind. The distant goal is to achieve Moksha (Salvation - the release of soul from the bond of entering a new body after death of the old body. The soul meets the god) The Yoga of Yogi is complete only when he achieves all the limbs of yoga (there are 8 limbs called Ashtang Yoga) which includes Yama • Niyama • Asana • Pranayama • Pratyahara • Dharana • Dhyana • Samadhi. 

Yama - Yama means death. It is rule for living which will help bring the feeling of death to the lower self. It teaches us what we shall not do in our dealings with the external world. Yama has 10 traditions as below : 
1.Ahimsa - Nonviolence. Teaches us not to harm or cause pain to any living creature. Even a violent thought or deed breaks the rule of this tradition. This is the main yama. The other nine are there in support of its accomplishment. 

2.Arjava – honesty. In every aspect and deeds. 

3.Brahmacharya – virginity. A divine conduct when single, faithful to the partner when married. 

4.Satya – the truth or the truthfulness in words, thoughts and deeds. 

5.Asteya – Is about non-stealing, non-coveting and non-entering into debt. 

6.Daya - mercy – It teaches us mercy and to not to be cruel or have insensitive feelings towards other creatures. 

7.Kshama - forgiveness. Teaches us patience, forgiveness and functioning in the now. 

8.Dhriti - steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear and seeing each task through to completion. 
9.Mitahara – Simple and moderate appetite. Neither eating too much nor too less. Nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or egg which can kill the other creatures. 

10.Shaucha – Avoid the impurity in body, mind and speech. Getting rid of waste from our mind and body. 

Niyama :  Niyama is a set of behaviors. A task which we are bound to do everyday. These are our dealings with the inner world. The dealings which we promise ourselves everyday. There are 10 traditional Niyamas:  
1.Hri:  The first Niyama is to be modest. To be shameful of your misdeed or bad karma.  

2.Santosha: The second Niyama is being satisfied with the  resources you have. Not desiring more. Being happy with whatever you have. 

3.Dana: The third Niyama is a thought to giving. A kind of help which is given without expecting a reward. It can be money, advice or a help.  

4.Astikya: The fourth Niyama is faith. Believe in the guru and the god. Walking on the path shown the guru and the god.  

5.Ishvarapujana: The fifth Niyama is worship. The sheer devotion to the god. A daily worshipping and meditation.  

6.Siddhanta shravana: The sixth Niyama is to listen the scriptural teachings. Listening words of god and the guru.  

7.Mati: The seventh Niyama is to develop a spiritual will. Intellect on godly messages with Guru’s guidance.
8.Vrata: The eighth Niyama is to fulfill religious vows. To follow the rules of the religion faithfully. 

9.Japa: The ninth Niyama is to chant the sacred mantras daily.  

10.Tapas: The tenth Niyama is to endurance of the opposites. Worship god in the worst circumstances. It could be hunger, thirst, cold, heat etc.

Aasana is a position of the body. It is associated with yoga. The positions of yoga are called Aasana. They improve body’s flexibility and health. Aasana refers two things (1) The place where the Yogi or Yogini performs the yoga (2) The position they sits. 

There are various Aasanas. There are atleast 1300 with variations derived from gurus and yogis. There are some specific Aasanas to cure specific diseases. 
While performing the Aasanas, the stomach should be empty, the body should not tremble, the parts of the body should be lowered slowly, breathing should be controlled, some Aasanas should be avoided in menstruation and the Yogi should not go to sleep within an hour after performing yoga. Some common Aasanas are Dhanurasana, Halasana, Vajraana, Shavasana and Shirshasana.

Pranamyam is a Sanskrit word. It means the act of controlling breathing. The breathing here is associated with life. Through breathing we can control several tasks of the body. It is often translated as controlling life force. It is also mentioned in the Bhagwad Geeta. The Pranayam controls the body and the mind. It also connects the body parts and the mind.
Several researchers and medical science have reported that the Pranayam also cures stress related disorders. It reduces oxidative stress and gives good results in Asthma. Daily practice of Pranayam develops a steady mind, strong will power and judgement 

Pratyahara is the control on senses. It is the fifth element of Patanjali's asthangya yoga. It is about self control over senses of touch, taste, sight, hearing. When the controlling reaching its peak there ae Dharana (concentration) and Samadhi (absorption) The person who practices pratyahara is Sadhak (Practioner) who wants to achieve Samadhi. Pratyahara is derived from two Sanskrit words Prati and Ahara. Ahara means food in Sanskrit. In Pratyahara the Ahara stands for anything that is taken into the body or mind. It can be through mouth, eyesight or sense of touch.

Dharana is collection or concentration of mind. It is referred as holding to collecting the knowledge and maintaining it or keeping it back. It is the sixth stage of element of Patanjali's Astanga yoga. As Pratyahara withdraws the senses from the external things which can distract us. Dharna keeps the sense of Pratyahara and do not let our mind distract from the external phenomena. It gives us single pointed concentration in all the tasks we perform.

Samadhi is a Sanskit word. It is a state where the person is in a different state of consciousness which is induced by the meditation. The word Samadhi gas “Sam” which means together and “Dhi” which means intellect.When a person is in Samadhi, he is in a complete state of control where the distraction of consciousness does not come in the path.